There’s a gentle thread that connects the days after Christmas to the early part of the new year. I’ve heard them described as a hush; a time when the world half closes her eyes to the normal expectations of behavior and routine, where we’re allowed, give ourselves permission to renegotiate our experience of time if only for a brief period.
Despite not coming from a family steeped in holiday tradition, I’ve always felt this period to be a liminal space, even if I was unsure exactly why. Sure, it’s punctuated at the start with Christmas, but the days that followed always seemed to hold an energy of their own. Like the spaces between seconds lingered just a little longer.
All along, it turns out, my body was hearing the whispers of a mostly forgotten Celtic tradition that danced in my cells long before my conscious brain had words to describe them. These are the Omen Days, intercalary days that traverse the period from the 26th of December to the 6th of January. They are literally considered to be ‘in between time’ or a ‘time within time’ the space where the solar calendar seeks to catch up with the roman.
By tradition, each one of the 12 days gives itself over to a month of the year. The 26th of December is January; the 27th of December, February; the 28th of December, March; and so on for the remainder of the twelve-month cycle.
Those connected with the tradition give themselves over to the land at this time, considering it a time for deep observation, contemplation and meaning. They would look for signs and symbols in nature, taking them to be indicators and messages for the month they represent.
To observe this period is simply to bear witness. To be in nature, to notice, to observe and to wait.
I, for one, am ending this year both weary and grateful.
Grateful for the blessings I know to be true in my life.
Weary of the collective and individual weight that is felt by all that is happening in the world, so many dealing with unspeakable suffering that my words feel insufficient to speak to.
Throughout, I have taken my thoughts, my laughter, my joys, my confusions, my wonders, and my tears to the base of the big Macrocarpa tree at the bottom of the back paddock.
I have spoken to the Tui and the Bellbird that feed outside my window, who I watch now as I type.
I have woven my thoughts, my love, and my concerns in threads of mane of my beloved horses.
I have stood at the lips of the ocean, apologized to her, picked out rubbish from her hair, asked her for her guidance.
I have trodden many miles on land I am fortunate to travel on, with and through.
This is normal. To ask for the advice, the gifts of nature and to expect to hear her back.
To seek to offer something in return.
To want to lie down in the grass and slip between time.
What is not: the disconnection, the violence, the sense of ‘other’.
The colonized fragments of experience we are asked to dress up in and fit into.
To seek to return to the many traditional practices, Omen Days being one, passed on but long forgotten, is not performative but radical and essential.
A slowing down.
A bearing witness.
A seeking of guidance from a place beyond what we might understand to be the rational and the sensible.
This is the place of return and of renewal.
An act of love.
For the next few days, I’m going to taking space for acts of noticing. An everyday surrender to the world and to each other.
An act of I’m here, I’m listening, I’m paying attention.
We all need each other.
Sending much love and hopefulness,